Give Me My Stuff Back! How to Recover Your Data (Mostly) Free and Easy



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Great article, thanks.  However, when you recommend software, would it be possible for you to provide a hotlink to the software page? I don't see links for either Recuva or TestDisk.




After the website redesign, the "Print" button is nowhere to be seen. It is useful for people like me to save Maximum PC articles to PDF format. Please bring the "Print" button back. Thanks!



sorry, double post.



i have a question regarding data retrieval.

my system crashed, apparently an os issue. when i tried to reboot, kept giving me stop code 0x7b, unmountable boot volume, can't even get on to safe mode. so i tried to boot from my os cd w/c is a win7 ultimate 32bit, can't even do a startup repair.

so i tried to install, well, because i was dumb & careless, i actually installed win7 on my laptop. but when i checked my hdd, it only says 120GB on it. this laptop has 320GB in total hdd size.

next thing i did was i installed win xp pro, this to my knowledge would let me make the correct partition on my hdd.(another boneheaded move)

before it crashed, this originally had 3 partitons. 120GB for the os, 100GB for the 2nd partition & remaining 99GB was for the 3rd partition.

another detail i would like to add is, i installed true crypt 2 days before my sys crashed. w/c ironically, i was just 2 damn days shy of buying an external hdd since i just received my Christmas bonus that time.

i have tried several data retrieval programs like Sys Mechanic, Easus, GetDataBack to no avail. Right now, I have formatted the other 2 partitions but I still didn't save anything on it except for my drive C.

on all of those data retrieval programs i used, i keep getting a bunch of trash like a Shockwave file over 2GB in size which actually would sum up to the same size as my partition on drive D.

is it high time for me to require the services of a professional? what i would really like to get back are just the pictures of my babies which have been arranged chronologically like when they were in their 1st month & so on.

i know i'm pretty stupid not making backup copies or even as simple as uploading them to imageshack or photobucket, but at this point, i need an option how i can go about with this.



Mighty BOB!

Overkill is the best kind of kill.



I like the new website! Pretty sweet!

I have a system of creating backups: I ditched my old way of backing up my stuff (moving onto external hard drive) and do it the old fashioned way. I created a whole backup of ALL of my files on to three separate sets of DVDs (each set has 2 DVDs). I have a set in my car, a set that I gave my friends and a set at home. The backups are zipped and password-protected.

I have a folder named "new" on my desk--EVERY newly created or downloaded file ends up in this folder until the end of the week, when I burn the files to a CD-RW (if they are important enough). When I obtain ~4.5 GB of backups from the set of CD-RWs, I burn the contents to a DVD and call it "Incremental Backup mm/yyyy", and the CD-RWs get erased for use again.

Also, I have an ancient Dell under my desk that I use as a simple file server (Samba). I move the contents of "New"
onto the server. And then again, I have a drawer full of flash drives and my external hard drive.

If my hard drive was to die right now, it would be a minor inconvenience. I'd have to wait a few days for the UPS guy to deliver my new drive, reinstall Ubuntu and Windows, and transfer my files and settings back on.



Warning: Recuva is no good for recovering deleted partition [most files aren't found even with deep scan].  I recently tried it January 2011 using the latest version on an NTFS drive.  I ended up having to use another software to do that.



I use Eaesus Data Recovery Pro when I have any issues.



ok so they didn't mention how to recover data on raid, or what pogram to use.

how about my drive that caught fire?.. litteraly was in flames..i don't know if even the pros can recover data from a toasted drive.


on a side note: the pic with the cat inside the case, is hilarious :)


Fecal Face

I've recovered data on raid before, but for some reason it didn't work. I used "Raid Reconstructor", and some other recovery program made by the same company. It recovered all the files, but they all seemed to be corrupted somehow - videos wouldn't play, images wouldn't show, etc.

The two programs cost money though, but I pira- I mean borrowed them off a friend.



It's theoretically possible. They recovered a decent amount of data from the hard drives that were on Columbia when it disintegrated on reentry. HOWEVER... your probably looking at tens of thousands of dollars with a limited chance of success.

And yes, sadly they did skip over RAID despite the promises.



Use SpinRite for a while and you'll be a true believer. It has saved my data (or, more often, the data of one of the employees at my company) many many times...Often when the drive is physically screwed up, including making the terrible clicking sounds. All it has to do is make the drive work long enough to get the data off, and spinrite often does that.

FWIW, spinrite was written by Steve Gibson, and he's friggin' awesome.



Depending on size and amount of bad sectors, it could take hours to days to finish.

I've used the freezer trick on a few drives.

Get Data Back has also worked on deleted files or drives with bad sectors that spinrite got Windows to recognize.



I've seen this program work miracles, regardless of the OS, on mine and other peoples drives. It can take a long time to run, though.


I've got it running on one failed 80GB SATA drive right now. Over 10 days straight and almost through testing 5% of the drive. Really.



This is true. I let it run for 2 months on a drive once just to see if it could pull it out (it didn't, the drive was totally screwed). 

Luckily, once it gets through the rough spot (which hopefully isn't covering too many sectors), it'll fly (relatively speaking) through the rest of the drive.

I just had a coworker bring me a computer the other day...his wife ran a small business db on it and it sat under a desk for 9 years with no maintenance whatsoever. Started BSOD'ing on every boot so they couldn't even create a backup of the stupid proprietary DB (which hadn't been backed up for months). Spinrite fixed it up in a few hours and I was able to boot it and get the data off. He was very happy. They probably still won't do proper backups.


Bullwinkle J Moose

Speaking of Backups,

A lot of forums focus on fixing Windows instead of restoring backups

I've seen hendreds of forums recommending that you waste days or weeks trying to fix what cannot be fixed

If its a Windows problem and not unrecoverable data, I just boot to Bart-PE and grab everything I need off of the boot drive, then restore a backup

Oh, and speaking of overwriting your data...

Boot drives for Internet computers should be thought of as Temporary storage

By making my boot partition no bigger than 16GB, I can just restore a backup in 60 seconds or less for a basic Windows install and overwrite all remaining free space by copying old backups and some .MP3's from my D: drive to C:\temp untill I have ZERO bytes free

Now just delete the temp directory and your boot drive is completely sanitized!

I was baffled at all the forum articles online showing you how to waste hours trying to hide your Internet activity when you can just overwrite every single byte in less than 3 minutes on a 16GB partition

Total time to restore a backup and sanitize a boot partition = 5 minutes  (16GB)



Well for one thing, that depends on the backup scheme you use. If you're restoring from a ghosted image, then you're probably restoring those files to the exact same blocks they were in before and have not actually over-written much at all, whereas if your restoring from an iso or simple file copy bin, you probably are overwriting things.

And most people aren't running daily or weekly backups, and reinstalling windows will entail downloading weeks or months, perhaps even a years-worth of various program updates, patches, et all. so in the long run spending two hours nuking temp files is less time-intensive for the average user than 4-8 hours to reinstall and redownload all their stuff if they are that paranoid about their tracks (when they should be using passweords, porn sessions, and proxies in the first place anyway)


Bullwinkle J Moose

You should really stop assuming what others did or will do

what I did was valid for the backups I make





The new website design looks great!

I hate seeing the message “The drive is not formatted. Do you want to format it now?” Hopefully this program works as advertised.



The article says it's was posted by Amber but the little photo next to the title is of Brian Mahoney.



His name is Robert Paulson

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